Ahh, there’s no place like home — especially when you own it!
Hello, my name is Samantha, I’m a millennial and I am a homeowner. Truth is, I really never thought I would be able to own a home. I live in New York – one of the ten most expensive places to live in the country. I didn’t realize just how expensive it was until I started renting… (cue Jimmy McMillan preaching, “The rent is too damn high”). Well, he’s right! As of July 2016, the average apartment rent within the city of New York, New York is $3,271.
Owning just makes more financial sense. It’s an investment that builds value and equity over time, plus it’s all yours. There are so many benefits of owning a home. For one, you have more privacy and the creative freedom to decorate and renovate as you like. Want a garden? No problem! Personally, I enjoy the perks of having a laundry machines and a dishwasher all under one roof. And did I mention the potential for HUGE tax breaks?
I’m not going to lie…the whole home-buying process is a bit scary, extremely expensive and tremendously overwhelming. In no way whatsoever am I an expert – but I’ve put together some tips that may come in handy for aspiring millennial home buyers:
Audit your credit history
Lenders will not give you the time of day unless you have a good credit score (and a consistent two-year work history). According to Investopedia, conventional mortgages are hard to get with a score below 620 and some lenders require at least 700. One good way to keep your score up? Commit to paying off bills and student loans on time. Run a credit report every year (ex: FreeCreditReport.com, Experian.com). Pay attention to inaccuracies, like balances you’ve already paid off and fraudulent activity. And keep in mind, the better your credit score is, the lower the interest rate you’ll be offered – and the less you’ll pay.
Do your research
Don’t go in blindly. There’s so much information, I cannot even begin to tell you. My first suggestion is to talk to your parents. Chances are they own a home, so they are the perfect source for reliable information. Do you have any real estate friends or any lawyers in the family? Pick their brains as much as possible. Ask them about the market, down payment options, closing costs, out-of-pocket expenses, interest rates, etc. Of course, I would also start by simply Googling, “What to know before buying a house.” There’s a ton of resources out there.
Evaluate what you can afford
The median income for a millennial older than 25 is $38,220. So let’s be real. Unless you recently hit a lottery jackpot, your first home will be a “starter” home – quite possibly a fixer-upper, and that’s entirely okay! Having a low budget to work with often leads to the pressure of choosing the first thing you see.
When my husband and I went looking for houses with our agent, we saw a total of four houses before we chose “the one.” Finding a home that quickly is very rare, and we thought that maybe we were jumping the gun. It was within our budget, in the perfect neighborhood and the taxes weren’t that bad. The pressure was on because it was a rare find, and there was already a bid on it. The market moves so quickly and sometimes taking calculated risks are worth it. Every situation is different. It’s an enormous investment and a delicate decision so handle with care (and don’t forget to breathe).
Happy house hunting to my fellow millennials! And please, don’t hesitate to message me if you have any questions. I’m happy to offer as much helpful advice as I can!